As most millennial success stories start, we were both comfortably employed but not really happy.
We lived in a spacious downtown apartment, didn’t have debts to worry about, and used our two weeks vacation each year to travel to new and exciting destinations.
But neither of us were satisfied, our jobs paid the bills but were far from the careers we’d dreamed we’d one day have.
At the end of 2016, the loose ends of our four-year tour of Alberta started tying themselves up. Our lease ended, Jaclyn’s contract ended, and I volunteered to be laid off. The plan had always been to work a year in Alberta and move home to Toronto, but even three years past our deadline to return home, neither of us was ready for the adventure to end.
We’d become locals. First in rural Alberta, where we attended rodeos, drove dusty dirt roads, and listened to all sorts of country music, then in Edmonton, where we took in fine dining, folk festivals, and pro sports. We left Alberta with a sense of the province beyond what tourists see.
Sure, we’d been to Banff and Jasper, but we’d hiked out to remote waterfalls in the summer, to the peaks of distant mountains in the fall, and skied up to isolated chalets in the winter.
We’d been to the Calgary Stampede, but more importantly to the small town rodeos that determine the Stampede’s contestants. For the tourist, the Calgary Stampede is the one-stop-shop for cowboy culture. But for true Albertans, it doesn’t compare to watching a Sunday afternoon chuckwagon race in Dewberry, Alberta. If the Calgary Stampede were an EPCOT world showcase pavilion, Dewberry would be an afternoon in Tuscany.
If the Calgary Stampede were an EPCOT world showcase pavilion, Dewberry would be an afternoon in Tuscany.
We were living in Alberta like locals.
For the first time in our twenties, Jaclyn and I, had both time and money, and our mutual unemployment could have lead us back to Toronto to settle down for good, but neither of us felt ready for the adventure to be over. In January we applied for Tier 5 – Youth Mobility Visas allowing us to work in the United Kingdom for two years, and by February we were approved and gearing up to become locals on foreign soil.
In Alberta, we immersed ourselves in the culture, rarely saying no to stepping outside of our comfort zone, and we want to bring that mindset with us to the UK. We found a job serving at a small community-owned pub in Cambridgeshire, England where we’ll have a chance to experience a lifestyle beyond guided tours and hostels. Instead of seeing Great Britain two or three weeks at a time for the rest of our careers, we’ll be living it.
In short, our mission is to live like locals.
I’m taking a late-in-life gap year.
I’m a Canadian journalist from Oakville, Ontario which is a suburb of Toronto. I always saw myself as a city boy, but my news career took me halfway across the country in a small town on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. There I covered everything from minor hockey (which could be considered major hockey in most small towns) bull riding, and agriculture.
Living in Alberta sparked my passion for the great outdoors, and also helped me hone my skills as a foodie. My interest in food has transitioned from mostly eating and cooking it, to actually sourcing my own ingredients through gardening and hunting, so my current gig as a server was a natural fit. I also love finding unique places to eat while on the road, and am excited about the endless food options that exist in Europe.
Living abroad has also been #1 on my bucket list.
I’m a former Communications Manager and am originally from Townsend, Ontario, a small town that I’m sure you’ve heard of, so it seems fitting that I would move abroad to an English village of 400 people.
I became fixated on the idea of living abroad, specifically in the UK, at age five after reading about England in a book, which is where I got most of my ideas of the world.
I’m known to befriend any animal I come across, and I apologize in advance for greeting your dog well before acknowledging you. I lack a sense of direction and should never be put in charge of navigating, but I make up for it with my ability to create the perfect playlist for any adventure or road trip.
I love trying different things, discovering odd and unusual places, and meeting new people. I am currently working as a server, like Bryan, and while I don’t have the same passion for eating that he does, I am hoping to learn more about sustainable food and farming.